Honours recipients

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021, 85.0% of honours recipients were White (out of those whose ethnicity was known)

  • 6.8% of honours recipients were Asian, 4.2% were Black, 3.3% had Mixed ethnicity, and 0.7% were from the Other ethnic group

  • White people received 97.0% of higher honours, including damehoods and knighthoods

  • out of all types of honour, OBEs had the highest percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities), at 17.7%

  • between June 2014 and June 2021, the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) went up from 6.5% to 15.0%

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data measures the ethnicity of people who receive one of the following honours in the New Year and Queen's Birthday Honours lists:

  • higher honours, including damehoods and knighthoods
  • CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
  • OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire)
  • MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire)
  • BEM (British Empire Medal)

Each year, the Queen's Birthday Honours List is published in June (with the exception of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020, which was published in October). The New Year Honours List is published in December.

Read more about the honours system. Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal point, but all differences have been worked out using unrounded data (available in the data file).

Not included in the data

The data does not include:

  • people who did not accept their honour
  • people whose ethnicity was not known

The ethnic groups used in the data

Data is shown for these 5 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

This means estimates are shown for these groups as a whole. This is because the number of honours recipients is too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census. See Download the data for data on the 18 ethnic groups.

For the data shown over time, results are shown for 2 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • White – White ethnic groups, including White British and White ethnic minorities
  • Other than White – all other ethnic minorities

Ethnicity was not known for 1.9% of honours recipients in June 2021.

Methodology

The number of honours recipients is small and varies from year to year. Find out how group size affects the reliability of data.

In the data file

See Download the data for:

  • the number of recipients whose ethnicity was not known between June 2014 and June 2021
  • unrounded data for the 18 ethnic groups used in the 2011 Census

3. By ethnicity and type of honour

Percentage and number of honours recipients, by ethnicity and type of honour
All Higher CBE OBE MBE BEM
Ethnicity All % All Number Higher % Higher Number CBE % CBE Number OBE % OBE Number MBE % MBE Number BEM % BEM Number
All 100.0 1,107 100.0 33 100.0 104 100.0 198 100.0 451 100.0 321
Asian 6.8 75 3.0 1 7.7 8 6.6 13 6.9 31 6.9 22
Black 4.2 46 0.0 0 3.8 4 4.5 9 4.2 19 4.4 14
Mixed 3.3 37 0.0 0 3.8 4 5.6 11 3.8 17 1.6 5
White 85.0 941 97.0 32 84.6 88 82.3 163 84.3 380 86.6 278
Other 0.7 8 0.0 0 0.0 0 1.0 2 0.9 4 0.6 2

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity and type of honour Summary

The data shows that, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021:

  • 85.0% of honours recipients were White

  • 6.8% of honours recipients were Asian, 4.2% were Black, 3.3% had Mixed ethnicity, and 0.7% were from the Other ethnic group

  • 97.0% of people receiving a higher honour (like a knighthood or damehood) were White and 3.0% were Asian – there were no higher honour recipients from Black, Mixed or Other ethnic backgrounds

  • out of all types of honour, OBEs had the highest percentage of recipients from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined (17.7%)

4. By ethnicity and type of honour over time

Percentage of honours recipients, by ethnicity (White and Other than White) and type of honour over time
White Other than White
Time period White Higher White CBE White OBE White MBE White BEM Other than White Higher Other than White CBE Other than White OBE Other than White MBE Other than White BEM
Jun-14 94.9 94.4 91.1 92.9 95.9 5.1 5.6 8.9 7.1 4.1
Dec-14 92.9 96.3 94.4 91.1 97.2 7.1 3.7 5.6 8.9 2.8
Jun-15 84.6 94.4 94.7 91.3 95.1 15.4 5.6 5.3 8.7 4.9
Dec-15 94.7 96.2 95.2 91.6 96.5 5.3 3.8 4.8 8.4 3.5
Jun-16 94.4 93.3 92.4 87.9 96.6 5.6 6.7 7.6 12.1 3.4
Dec-16 91.9 93.8 91.2 88.9 91.8 8.1 6.3 8.8 11.1 8.2
Jun-17 94.6 94.9 88.1 86.8 94.9 5.4 5.1 11.9 13.2 5.1
Dec-17 91.8 92.6 89.6 88.2 94.8 8.2 7.4 10.4 11.8 5.2
Jun-18 94.3 90.0 85.2 87.1 94.7 5.7 10.0 14.8 12.9 5.3
Dec-18 100.0 96.3 87.1 82.3 92.7 0.0 3.7 12.9 17.7 7.3
Jun-19 96.8 92.6 84.3 87.3 93.7 3.2 7.4 15.7 12.7 6.3
Dec-19 85.3 87.2 88.5 84.7 90.8 14.7 12.8 11.5 15.3 9.2
Oct-20 95.5 84.0 86.7 80.2 90.1 4.5 16.0 13.3 19.8 9.9
Dec-20 96.7 86.0 85.8 84.1 86.4 3.3 14.0 14.2 15.9 13.6
Jun-21 97.0 84.6 82.3 84.3 86.6 3.0 15.4 17.7 15.7 13.4

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of honour over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Honours recipients By ethnicity and type of honour over time Summary

The data shows that, between June 2014 and June 2021:

  • the percentage of honours recipients from ethnic minorities (not including White minorities) went up from 6.5% to 15.0%

  • the percentage of recipients from ethnic minorities receiving each of the CBE, OBE, MBE and BEM honours went up

  • for higher honours like knighthoods and damehoods, the percentage of recipients is often based on a very small number (between 20 and 50 per honours list in total) – this makes it difficult to make reliable generalisations about changes over time

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Cabinet Office

Publication frequency

Twice a year

Purpose of data source

The collection of this data is for statistical purposes and aids the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in ensuring equality of representation in the honours system.

6. Download the data

Honours recipients - Spreadsheet (csv) 133 KB

This file contains the following: type of honour, ethnicity, year, number and percentage values